Libertarians have all likely heard about the power of ideas. Those who are new to the liberty movement will recall Ron Paul describe it like so:
“Ideas are very important to the shaping of society. In fact, they are more powerful than bombings or armies or guns. And this is because ideas are capable of spreading without limit. They are behind all the choices we make. They can transform the world in a way that governments and armies cannot. Fighting for liberty with ideas makes more sense to me than fighting with guns or politics or political power. With ideas, we can make real change that lasts.” (from Dr. Paul's book Liberty Defined)It's definitely comforting to read or hear such words. It breathes life into the fact that no matter how dark the clouds of the State become, Liberty still has a very good fighting chance.
However, there might still exist some lingering doubts in the back of your mind. Thoughts like "Yeah, ideas are great, but look how big government has become. It's the biggest government in the history of the world." Or "The government covers the world with their bases and troops. How can the ideas of Liberty be more powerful than that?"
Well, hopefully the following will help to erase those doubts.
You see, the U.S. Empire, while definitely the largest that the world has ever seen, is not the only Empire to exist in man's history. In fact, the story of World Empires is one of perfect failure. They come into existence, overextend, face reality, and vanish. Reality has a built-in anti-Empire panacea. It's called economics. Empires cannot conquer economics no matter how hard they try.
Now, prior to the U.S. Empire, there existed the British Empire. It's very ironic that the former would follow the latter, because the American colonies seceded from the British Empire. At the time, the British Empire was the biggest that the world had ever seen. And yet, inspired by the ideas of Liberty, the secession of the puny colonies occurred.
You may think: "Ok, but was it really the power of ideas that were the driving force?" And the answer is: YES.
Something very significant was said on May 30th 1777, after the war was well underway. Lord Chatham spoke in England's House of Lords and said:
“We called them rebels, but they were only defending their unquestionable rights. Nor could we in any case conquer them – it was impossible. (my emphasis)Think about the gravity of what Chatham was saying there. The British Empire, the largest ever, which had just conquered France all over the globe, would not conquer 13 outpost American colonies. Chatham said it would be "impossible"! He understood very well the ideas that were animating the colonists.
In true Empire form, King George III thought Chatham was off his rocker, saying: "thank God the Nation does not see the unhappy Contest through [Chatham’s] mirror. If his sentiments were adopted, I should not esteem the situation in this country a very dignified one, for the Islands would soon cast off all obedience.” Surely, King George had his brand of
But they did.
Chatham was right. It's impossible to conquer the ideology of Liberty.
This historical example of the power of ideas does not imply that there must be an armed revolution for Liberty to succeed. This author is 100% against such a horrendous idea. Violence is the forte of government. Liberty is peaceful.
In fact, this author is in agreement with Lew Rockwell in believing that the American colonists chose the wrong means in accomplishing their goal. They should have seceded peacefully.
“It took me a while, despite my Loyalist ancestors, to come to the same conclusion about the Revolutionary War. It was unnecessary, like the rest of our wars. For example, the king–a sweetheart compared to almost any US president–would have conceded internal independence to the 13 colonies, so long as they remained officially British. And as the examples of Australia and Canada show, with British colonies that became peacefully independent, there is far more decentralism than in the US, and far less militarism and belligerent nationalism."The mentality of war can only be detrimental to the cause of Liberty. Just look at who was elected the first President of the United States - a "war hero". Look at what has happened since....
Perhaps the last 238 years are to act as a giant lesson for those who desire Liberty - that it must be born and cultivated in an environment of Peace if it is to last. Such an environment can exist anywhere and at any time. It exists right where you are, and right where I am.
Peacefully sharing ideas. One mind to another. No guns.
If, in that way, the ideas of Liberty reach a critical mass - its power would be awe-inspiring.
Chris Rossini is on Twitter